Olympic stoush was unnecessary

WINDSURFING BACK: The move to introduce kiteboarding in place of windsurfing at the Olympics should never have happened, Barbara Kendall says.
WINDSURFING BACK: The move to introduce kiteboarding in place of windsurfing at the Olympics should never have happened, Barbara Kendall says.

Sanity prevailed in the windsurfing versus kiteboarding Olympic debate, but it should never have taken place, Barbara Kendall says.

RS:X Windsurfing has been reinstated to the Olympic programme after being dumped for kiteboarding.

But Barbara of Stanmore Bay, who won gold, silver and bronze medals in the former code, says the original decision was rushed and ill-informed.

The International Sailing Federation council voted in May to include kiteboarding at the expense of windsurfing, which had been part of the Olympics since 1984 for men, and 1992 for women.

The decision was overturned at the ISAF general conference in Dublin last week, but not before an almighty scrap.

Barbara, an International Olympic Committee member, says it should never have come to that.

"The members that voted had not been presented with, or done, their due diligence in making that (original) decision."

That means some members did not know what they were voting for.

Some thought kiteboarding would be freestyle, for example, but it was fleet racing - just as windsurfing has been raced.

There were other communication breakdowns, Barbara says.

The council representatives from the various regions were not always in sync with their own national authorities, she says.

And a specialist committee formed to look at both sports recommended windsurfing ahead of the May vote, as they did again in Dublin, only to have council members vote against it.

Fortunately, she says, none of the original council that voted for kiteboarding were re-elected.

But Barbara says the whole episode was unfortunate and should never have happened.

"The process in which the decision was made was not very professional," she says.

"What it did was set the windsurfing world against the kiteboarding world, when really we should not have been pitched against each other."

Ideally, she says, there would be room for both sports in future Olympics.

Currently, there is only room for 10 sailing classes.

Barbara Kendall won windsurfing gold at the Barcelona Olympics in 1996, silver at the next games in Atlanta in 1996, and bronze in Sydney in 2000. She also competed in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, coming fifth and sixth respectively.

Brother Bruce gained bronze and then gold medals in windsurfing at previous Olympics.

Barbara was the Oceania athletes' representative on the International Olympic Committee from 2005 to 2008.

She was on the New Zealand Olympic Committee Athletes Commission until 2008. She was elected an IOC member in July 2011 and now sits on the IOC Athletes Commission, Woman and Sport Commission and Sport and the Environment Commission.

Rodney Times